Chris Silverwood admits Mark Wood might miss Headingley Test against India

August 17, 2021

Chris Silverwood, England's head coach, has admitted that Mark Wood may end up joining a list of absentees including Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes for next week's third Test against India, after bowling through the pain of an injured shoulder during England's disastrous final-day capitulation at Lord's.

Wood, who landed heavily on his right shoulder while fielding on the fourth evening of the second Test, was still able to touch speeds of 94mph during a hostile but ineffective spell on the final morning. However, the effort caused him clear pain - not least when he jarred the same shoulder after tumbling in his followthrough - and Silverwood said he would be closely monitored by the England medical team ahead of the third Test, which gets underway at Headingley on August 25.

"The medics are working on him, we'll find out more in the next couple of days," Silverwood said on the morning after England's 151-run loss. "We will make a decision, along with him and our medics, closer to the time. But if he's not right, he's not right. I certainly won't push him into playing if he tells me he's not right. I will look after him."

The prospect of England losing yet another of their point-of-difference bowlers is a daunting one, given how shell-shocked the team was by the events of the fifth day at Lord's. A winning position was ripped away by an unbeaten ninth-wicket stand of 89 between Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, before the same pairing led the line in blasting England out for 120 in just 51.5 overs across the final two sessions.

While Wood's effort in the course of India's decisive partnership could not be faulted, the tactics most certainly could - with Root accepting responsibility at the end of the match for what was interpreted as an over-emotional attempt to get back at Bumrah in particular, after his short-pitched assault on England's No.11 James Anderson in the final moments of the third day's play.

"I saw Joe took that on himself in the interview afterwards, but it's a collective and I'm part of that as well," Silverwood said. "Emotions ran high, there's no doubt about it. They obviously targeted Jimmy in that first innings, so we went back hard at them as well. We tried to go toe-to-toe with them, but what we could have done better is shift from that tactic back to Plan A, and hitting the top of off.

"I don't mind the aggressive approach," he added. "One thing we have to become good at is removing lower-order batsmen. But equally I'd like to give some credit to the Indian batsmen as well. I thought they handled the situation really well. They navigated their way through it and put their team in a really strong position. They have to take some credit but equally we have to look at our tactics."

However, Silverwood had nothing but praise for the manner in which Wood himself had interpreted those tactics, especially given that his fierce extraction of India's top three earlier in the innings - including Rohit Sharma on the hook and Cheteshwar Pujara with a lifter late on the fourth evening - had been instrumental in setting up England's victory chance.

"What he did for the team, and the effort to bowl at 90mph with a sore shoulder, it just shows how much he cares about the team and how much he cares about playing for England, and how passionate he is," Silverwood said.

"It was a superb effort. I'm very proud of him for what he did there. He'll be trying his best to get ready for Leeds, and I will give him every chance to be fit, but at the same time, it is massively important that we look after Woody. He is a prized asset. We have found ourselves in the position, when you lose Archer and [Olly] Stone, we have got one guy left that can bowl that fast."

Silverwood also warned that there was little prospect of seeing the return of Stokes next week at Headingley, the venue where he etched his name into Ashes folklore in 2019 with his epic match-winning century. Stokes withdrew his availability before the start of the India series due to burn-out, allied to the complications caused by a badly broken finger, and despite the apparent desperation of England's series situation, Silverwood said there would be no SOS from the England camp.

"There's still no time limit on it, to be honest," he said. "The important thing is that Ben is okay, his family are okay, and that he comes back strong, and when he when re-enters the frame, he's ready in his mindset to come back to perform for England, like we know he can.

"I'm certainly not pushing him for an answer. I don't think that would be the right thing to do. There's people around him, supporting him, and when he's ready to come back in, obviously we'll welcome him back with open arms.

"But until then he'll get all the support he needs. There's no pushing from my point of view, I don't think you can push these issues. I'll wait."

Woakes also remains a doubt for Headingley after sustaining a foot injury prior to the series, with Silverwood admitting he "didn't have an answer" about his prospects of a return. England's problems, however, extend far beyond their fast-bowling stocks, given that their top three of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Haseeb Hameed each made ducks at Lord's, with only Burns contributing a score of any note with his first-innings 49.

The current lack of red-ball cricket in the county schedule is an added complication, and Silverwood admitted that England's selectors would "have to think of everything" when they meet on Tuesday evening to decide on the squad for Headingley - including a prospective break for Sibley, and recalls for two men whose last extended runs in the side came on the 2017-18 Ashes tour, James Vince and Dawid Malan.

"I've got to keep my eyes and ears open, and my mind open to all suggestions, and it's certainly something that we'll be talking about this evening in selection, when we all get together," Silverwood said. "It's not like I'm not in touch with these guys.I've seen them over the various formats and my relationship with these guys is very good. I'm quite close to them so I wouldn't say you can't do it.

"I don't think there is any ideal process out there. We have to make the best of what we've got," he added. "It's difficult to bring people in from, say, the Hundred or the Royal London Cup. To throw them into Test cricket, we've seen that the pressure is huge in this series. It's being played with a lot of passion, which is great to see, but it is a difficult transition.

"You've got to do what's best for the team, ultimately, and find the best way of progressing England to a place where big first-innings runs - and second-innings runs - come in on a consistent basis."

For the time being, however, Silverwood urged his players to use their week off wisely before reconvening at Headingley with fresh minds, safe in the knowledge that they have battled back from 1-0 deficits before, both in the 2019 Ashes, and in their 3-1 victory in South Africa the following winter.

"We've got a little bit space now, so they can go home, spend a bit of time with their families, calm down a little bit, and clear their minds and come back fresh.

"It's not a position that we're not used to. We've been in this position before, so I've made sure that we remember those feelings, remember those times, and how we did it. They've got the belief that they can do it, because they have done it before."

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